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How ESPN got duped into airing a terrible high school football team

How ESPN got duped into airing a terrible high school football team

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Well, this is a goof ESPN will be thinking about for some time.

In the midst of college football and the NFL ramping up, it’s also time for good old high school football! For the last few days, ESPN has been airing seven high school football games as part of their GEICO ESPN High School Kickoff, with the last game of the weekend slated to be high school powerhouse IMG Academy’s second game of the season.

IMG Academy’s opponent? A small school named Bishop Sycamore, an online charter school from Ohio. If that school doesn’t ring any bells, you’re not alone here. And yet, Bishop Sycamore played IMG Academy — likely the No. 1 high school team in the country — on ESPN’s main channel on Sunday, and were destroyed 58-0.

How did we get to this point, you ask? Well apparently, Bishop Sycamore lied its way into this game by stating they had D1 prospects (they don’t) and naming players who don’t even go to the school in their press release.

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ESPN’s broadcast of the game, meanwhile, scrambled to fill air time during IMG Academy’s drubbing of a vastly inferior opponent.

The broadcasters also mentioned their attempts to verify Bishop Sycamore’s story, but could not come up with anything, and ultimately were concerned for the “health and safety” of the players involved… midway through the second quarter.

It’s hard to imagine how we even got here in the first place. A quick Google search will bring up Bishop Sycamore’s 0-6 record from last year, and IMG Academy cleaned their clock 56-6 in their last meeting too. Plus, Bishop Sycamore has only been around for two seasons to this point, casting even more doubt about their claims of reeling in D1 prospects.

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Twitter, of course, was just as confused as to why the country’s best high school team was playing a school no one had heard of before.

Oh, and apparently Bishop Sycamore also played a game on Friday night, less than 48 hours before taking on IMG Academy, endangering the health and safety of their players even more.

According to Rashid Ghazi, the president of Paragon Marketing Group — the company that scheduled the game — they did not know Bishop Sycamore had played on Friday night and would have cancelled the game if they knew that was the case.

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Just how this got past ESPN is quite unfathomable, honestly. A thorough Google search would have told them all they needed to know that Bishop Sycamore wasn’t a legitimate program to face IMG Academy.

Part of me wants to give props to Bishop Sycamore for duping ESPN and getting their school on national television, but the injury risk to their players in a meaningless game of football was not worth it in the slightest.



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